Kaitenzushi: Sushi makes the rounds from Japan to America to Japan again

by Arielle Kahn

sushi earrings

Sushi earrings, just one manifestation of the food

In the past forty years, sushi has taken America by storm. Beginning as an obscure immigrant import thought to be unpalatable due to its tradition of using raw fish, sushi has since exploded in popularity, becoming an American symbol of sophistication, health-consciousness, and trendiness. It has been estimated that between 1988 and 1998, the number of sushi bars in the U.S. quintupled (Isle, 2005). Sushi is now a ubiquitous commodity, available not only in high-end restaurants or sushi bars, but also as fast food, prepackaged at the grocery store or on college campuses. Even non-edible representations are popping up everywhere, in the form of accessories, clothes, and knick knacks, from earrings to purses to refrigerator magnets to shower curtains. In America, sushi has firmly established itself as “cool.” Why did this happen? [Read more…]

Arielle Kahn


Arielle Kahn has a confession to make: she is a Japanaphilia noob. She knows next to nothing about Pokemon, Doraemon, or Hello Kitty. She didn’t watch Power Rangers or Sailor Moon as a child. Her range of video game experience is limited to Super Mario 64 and Kirby and the Crystal Shards. She didn’t discover Miyazaki films until an embarrassingly late age. She does like the anime Cowboy Bebop a whole lot, but only knows it exists in the first place thanks to a more Japan-savvy friend. All in all, she is totally unprepared to take this class—which is precisely the reason she’s here. As a third-year linguistics major, and having just finished her fifth semester of studying the Japanese language, Arielle realizes that language and culture are inextricably intertwined, and figures that it would probably be fairly illuminating to study their intersection. Also, she is feeling left out and wants to get in on the party that is Japanafandom and see what all the fuss is about. And she wants to play more Nintendo. Oh, and eat more sushi. Always there should be more sushi.